This dish is Malta’s answer to pasta pie. It is most likely Sicilian in origin, given the proximity of the two Mediterranean islands, however countless regional versions exist in Italy, where it is known as timballo. The basis for this home-style pie is macaroni, penne or other tubular-shaped pasta tossed in a stew made from several different meats, including beef and offal, then encased in puff pastry for an extra-hearty bake.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 150 g bacon, chopped
- 200 g minced beef
- 100 g minced pork
- 100 g chicken livers, cleaned, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 200 g canned chopped tomatoes
- 125 ml (½ cup) beef stock
- pinch of grated nutmeg
- 250 g penne or other tubular pasta
- 60 g (¾ cup) finely grated parmesan
- 3 eggs
- 5 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 tbsp milk
- 2 cups flat-leaf parsley
- 1 eschalot, thinly sliced
- 50 g (¼ cup) baby capers
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Drink match Birra Moretti, Italy (330 ml, $3). A pale, lager style of beer with a delicate malt balance and clean finish.
Heat oil in a large, heavy-based pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes or until softened. Add garlic, bay leaves and bacon, and cook for 4 minutes or until bacon starts to brown. Add beef and pork, and cook, breaking up lumps with a wooden spoon, for 7 minutes or until browned. Add livers and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until browned. Add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, then add tomatoes, stock and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until liquid has reduced slightly. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile cook pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, add to sauce with parmesan and 2 lightly beaten eggs, mixing to combine. Cool.
Preheat oven to 220°C. Using a 20 cm plate, cut 4 rounds from 4 pastry sheets, then cut 4 smaller rounds from remaining pastry sheet. Lightly grease 4 x 375 ml (1½-cup) springform pans or baking dishes, then line with the large pastry rounds. Divide pasta mixture among pans and top with smaller pastry rounds, crimping edges to seal and trimming excess. Whisk remaining egg with milk, then brush tops of pastry. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven to 180°C and bake for a further 15 minutes or until pastry is golden. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make parsley salad, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Turn timpana out of pans and serve with salad.
Photography Derek Swalwell